Friday, 26 November 2021

Another week bites the dust

It's Friday, again and the weeks are rolling by both fast and slow at the moment. But now, only two weeks of school left until Christmas holidays and December next week!

Nathan went back to work this week after more than two weeks off (he was on leave) where he ended up not going anywhere as initially planned because of changed (and confusing) restrictions in Europe. Instead he got to play quite a bit of padel, and received the new bike kit for SideHustle. Check him out!

I have been working (always yay!). This week a bit unusually doing "normal" tours, not at the Louvre Abu Dhabi but at the SZGM, and also Wahat Al Karama and Masdar City. The first one a private one with a Swedish family and the second with the Swedish Ladies-group.

I received the result on the exam for my Women and Surrealism UNI-course - "With Distinction"! Very happy and proud!

I have also played padel, of course! I realised it's been a year this week since I was introduced to padel, and I have loved it from that very first time! I had a private coaching session at this gorgeous club the other morning - my padel court is sunnier than yours!

I haven't posted our dinners for a while, and truth to be told, we have gone off the track with the weekly menus and well-planned meals. Or more to the point - I have been working more, and since no one else manages the planning, the execution has gone out the window too... There has been quite a bit of easy dinner solutions, take-aways and home deliveries, not really worth listing. Ah well, that's ok too sometimes I guess.

So, Friday morning and we are all PCRed and ready for the weekend. Lucas is off this afternoon to celebrate a friends birthday, which apparently includes a boat trip to an island, picnic and water sports, limo-drive (!) to a restaurant and evening celebrations at Yas Island.
The rest of us are going to see our favourite comedian, Michael McIntyre, at the Etihad Arena. (Hence the PCRs, participation in events demands a max 96h PCR, even if you are vaccinated).

But first, as Nathan is at work, I have the Christmas music blaring and have brought out all the boxes with Christmas decorations! First of Advent on Sunday so bring on the Christmas explosion!

Monday, 22 November 2021

Abu Dhabi Art Fair

I was working like crazy this weekend, and just made it in time during the very last hours of opening, to visit the 13th edition of Abu Dhabi Art Fair at Manarat Al Saadiyat. Unfortunately I had to go by myself, as my friends were also working - or hadn't got their PCR in time (you need a max 96 hour PCR to attend any events here in the capital, even if vaccinated). I am so happy events like these are returning though, they have been greatly missed!

The fair had 49 local, regional and international galleries from 19 different countries; representing over 190 artists through over 600 artworks. Most of the artworks are for sale, they are showcased alongside several exhibitions, installations and special commissions. Let's start with Annie Morris:

These three pieces by Diana Al-Hadid were really interesting, as they didn't have any canvas! Can you see? They are "hollow"! So fascinating and different, like nothing else I have seen before. Loved them!

A sculpture by Fernando Botero, called Horse. I have loved his art since I saw some of his colossal sculptures in an open-air exhibition on the Champs-Elysées in 1992 while I was there as an Au Pair.

Below Lebanese American writer and artist Etel Adnan, who sadly just passed away last week. She found fame late in life as an artist, she was first an foremost a celebrated author. I loved these two paintings, small but evocative.

This was one of my favourite works, by Kim Duck-Yong. Not only for its motif, and because it reminded me of the Germination art piece at the Louvre Abu Dhabi; but also because it was made with mother-of-pearl on wood. Hard to see in the photo, but the shine was hypnotic.

This one was also fascinating, by Hadie Shafie. The whole artwork consisted of flat and rolled up pieces of paper with text on them, but hidden away.

Big Colourful Stones by Pascale Marthine Tayou - happy, happy, joy, joy!

My oh my, it seems like I had many favourites - this one too!
This was an installation by Christopher Joshua Benton called The World Was My Garden. This piece was centered around this palm tree as a metaphor for global trade, histories of slavery, issues of migration and global economy.

This was a very Instagram-friendly mirror by Anish Kapoor, called Random Triangle Mirror. I actually had to queue and wait my turn to take my selfie here..!

This! This must have been my ABSOLUTE favourite! It was by Mona Al Khaja and it was called Time Has Passed [1]. This large triptych, which was made during and about the pandemic, talked about time and how precious it is. I was looking at it for a very long time, and even had to go around the fair and then come back to this one once again, to enjoy it some more. This piece really, really, really spoke to me.

I enjoyed my visit immensely and felt so inspired, happy and uplifted when I left.
It made my soul sing!

Saturday, 20 November 2021

A big padel week

At the same time as I have been really busy this week with work (yay!), I have also been really busy playing padel! We did an Americano tournament Monday morning at the Cricket Club, I played at Active Sports in the city on Tuesday night, and Thursday morning we were invited to try the brand new indoor court at the Golf Club, pre-opening.

Nice court, but I think we will keep playing on our familiar outside courts... not only because we are creatures of habit, but also because we are very much in the best season now temperature wise! It's super lovely!

Last night I participated in a tournament at the ESS club in the city, having teamed up with my English friend Lauren. It was the first Ladies Challenger Tournament that the club organised for our level of playing, with 9 teams playing.

Lauren and I managed to reach the semi-finals, but were beaten 9-5 by our good friends from Argentina, Valeria and Alexia. Not only are they better players, but we already play together weekly so they know our game (and weaknesses), and to be honest - they managed to get into my head real quick, ha ha! I think I mostly lost that game with my mind..!
Anyhow - Valeria and Alexia went ahead to win the whole thing, well deserved! Congratulations!

Winning or loosing - we had SO much fun! The games, the ladies, the chats in-between games, the cheering on, the weather... - it was great! We spent all night at the padel club, from 6pm to 10.30pm!

Now I'm all fired up and have finally booked in for some more coaching! Next time I will be able to return ALL those sliced balls, ha ha!

Thursday, 18 November 2021

'Up in the Air' Afternoon Tea

This afternoon Linda and I went to the lobby of the Conrad Hotel at the Etihad Towers for a magical story-telling experience, called 'Up in the Air'. This afternoon tea is an event taking place the next few weeks, to bring in the grand celebration for the UAE's 50 years.

This circus-themed afternoon tea featured performers from the Russian National Circus.

They performed a play for us in 10 short acts, which included acrobatic and contortionist acts both on top of an piano and inside a hotel luggage cart - and the best of all - an aerialist suspended under a massive helium balloon in the ceiling of the lobby; together with some dancing of different styles.

The traditional afternoon tea included both sweet and savoury, and even though I love my desserts, I quickly got "sugared-out" as they were all very, very sweet. My favourite part was actually the savoury bites, which were really tasty. The 50-layered cake, celebrating the UAE (National Day is coming up on the 2nd of December), was quite a show-stopper, but unfortunately it didn't taste as good as it looked...

The performance was stunning though! Partly because the troupe was very talented, partly because of the absolutely amazing setting this hotel lobby provides.

The 2021 Directors Festival

Last night we were invited to participate in the 2021 Directors Festival at school, where Lucas was directing a live performance, as part of his DP Theater Class.
Unfortunately we weren't allowed at school to watch it live, due to the Covid restrictions (funny though that f.e the F1 Concerts are going ahead... with thousands and thousands of spectators...) so we sat at home watching it all via a live stream from the Black Box at school.

Lucas has been working so hard with this assignment these past few months. He had to choose a scene from a play and picked 'Don't look back in anger' by John Osborne, and studied it. It was also on him to hold his auditions to find the right actors, and he has been running their rehearsal schedules. He also designed the lights, sound and costume - and the result was great!
So proud of him!

Saturday, 13 November 2021

The National Aquarium

This week another fun attraction opened here in the capital, the largest aquarium in the Middle East - The National Aquarium Abu Dhabi. It is located in this brand new area of the city called Al Qana.

Linnea and I decided to go have a look on their opening day, and we actually had a lovely visit. There wasn't too many people at all, even though it was a Friday.
The aquarium is designed around 10 different zones, ranging from Heritage UAE where you learn about how pearls are formed and meet local animals, through Red Sea Wreck, Atlantic Cave and Ring of Fire to The Sub, Frozen Ocean and Ocean Magic. They also have the Flooded Forest and a special display around Bu Tinah Island.

There is an emphasis throughout on learning, and the signage is very high-tech. They are using NFC tags, which means that you just have to wave your phone at every sign, and all the information from each display will automatically show up on your own phone.

I read in an article that the GM of the National Aquarium is from New Zealand, which might explain the only country specific tank we could see - this "Te Ika a Maui", accompanied with the Haka in the loudspeakers:

There was a lot of funny fish to admire, like these Pineapple fish:

Or these Sea Dragon fish:

Luminous corals:

Mesmerising moon jellyfish:

And these fish, which I didn't get the name of, that looked like they were swimming around "standing up"!

These two fellas, the capybaras, seemed rather stunned to see people in their house, ha ha! They were looking at us with facial expressions that seemded to say: "What ARE you all doing here??", ha ha!

This here is Super Snake. She is a female reticulated python, bred in a captive program and believed to be the largest snake alive - she measures 7 meters, weighs 115 kg, and it takes 12 people to carry her!
Reticulated pythons are one of the few snakes that can prey on humans.


The National Aquarium is home to over 46,000 animals and more than 300 individual species. The animals are looked after by a team of 80 sea-life experts.
They have here the largest ray and shark collection in the Middle East, showcasing over 200 animals representing more than 25 species, such as Bull Sharks, Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks, Lemon Sharks, Sand Tiger Sharks, Eagle Rays, Cownose Rays and many more.

The National Aquarium ambitions to create the largest and one of the most innovative rehabilitation schemes of its kind to help protect the Abu Dhabi wildlife. They have partnered with the Environment Agency, and have already rescued a large number of animals. The aquarium have invested in the medical equipment needed to handle all animals, from dugongs stranded on beaches to whale sharks stuck in the canals and sea turtles needing rescue. Everyone is focused on conservation work.